This is a welcome announcement from the Big Lottery Fund – that it won’t withdraw funding from any organisation that speaks out on social issues like the human disaster known as Universal Credit.
But it is very easy to say such things. Considering the situation, it is important for us to see this organisation put its money where its mouth is.
Ellie Waugh, of the charity Humanity Torbay, made her situation as clear as crystal when she spoke out against the misery caused by Universal Credit in a video posted to Facebook last week.
And she made it clear that she had been told the charity would lose money if any of its representatives criticised the so-called benefit and its disastrous effects.
Now further details have emerged, courtesy of iNews.
An article states: “Ellie Waugh, who is CEO of Humanity Torbay, said she was visited by a Lottery official after she applied for £130,000 of funding for the charity… which would pay the rent on their building and pay two staff members.
“But she claimed the official told her to not express any more of her opinions about Universal Credit and the Government or she won’t receive any money.
“The Big Lottery Fund is an executive non-departmental public body, sponsored by the Government’s Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport.
“Trustee Shirley Holbrook said she was in the room when lottery official allegedly made the statement.
“Shirley said: “She said categorically if we were to receive a big lottery grant we would be unable to speak out against Universal Credit or any other government measure that affected our clients adversely.
“We are not a political organisation. We speak out about homelessness because we deal with the results of it every day.””
Those are contradictory statements, and there is only one way for the confusion to be resolved – with a decision on the charity’s £130,000 grant application from the Big Lottery Fund.
If the grant application is honoured, then we will know that charities need not fear losing out on funding if they speak out on social issues that the Conservative government may find embarrassing.
If it isn’t, then we know Humanity Torbay’s story was right, and the Tories are trying to hide the effects of Universal Credit through threats – by a form of violence, if you like.
The arrogance of such a choice is staggering. The UK has an honourable tradition of free speech and it is intolerable that the Conservatives should try to make restricting such comment a condition of funding from them.
That goes for any kind of funding. Bear in mind the Home Office’s attempt to gag members of the Windrush generation with non-disclosure agreements (NDAs) before paying out fast-track compensation for the horrors they suffered under the Tories’ “hostile environment” policy.
The Home Office’s only comment on this is that NDAs are no longer used on the Windrush generation. Not exactly encouraging, is it? No admission, no apology, no willingness to change.
Humanity Torbay deserves to see all three, in addition to its funding: An admission of guilt, an apology for bad behaviour, and an undertaking to change for the better. And £130,000 of grant money, of course.
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